It’s his greatest triumph. After a full-on battle with his arch foe, he lives to fight another day.
Happy Birthday, dear Joker…
Batman may as well not be in this book, for how effective he is.
Batgirl looks good, reviving her Oracle persona.
Nightwing, his memories restored, gives the Joker’s goons a good kicking.
Red Hood. Spoiler. Orphan. Signal. All doing a good job.
Harvey Bullock too.
Even Harley Freaking Quinn fights back against the evils of the Joker.
Sorry, he can’t beat the Joker. Even temporarily – send the Clown Prince of Crime back to Arkham once and for all and he could be off the board for, oh, maybe as long as two months.
It’s depressing, if predictable. DC writers are ridiculously in love with the Joker, condemning his acts while fetishising his violence. Batman, meanwhile, is pretty pathetic. He doesn’t appear until halfway through the story – the final chapter of Joker War – and you might expect his arrival to turn the tide. But no, as happens far too often, the frail felon can somehow hold his own in a very physical fight with Batman. Even Harley Quinn notices how off his game the Caped Crusader is.
Ohhhh, he was only pretending to be a bit rubbish.
Perhaps there are good story reasons Bruce seems, yet again, broken. I don’t know, I’ve not read this series for a few months – I was sick of the Joker. I do know that in a hero’s hundredth issue they should get the big win.
I did enjoy lots of the above moments. Plus, the old chemistry between Dick and Babs. The nattiness of some guy named Underbroker. The lack of Damien Wayne.
I even enjoyed a line from Alfred, who seems to have gone from corpse to chatty clown prop.
But I am so, so sick of the Joker.
I’m not sick of the art of Jorge Jimenez, who was great on Super Sons a few years ago and has only become a better comic artist. His illustrations are packed with detail – just look at all those police cars around Bullock – while his dynamic battle scenes are up there with the best. The extremely annoying Punchline, his artistic creation, benefits from Jimenez’ passion, her bratty sultriness lighting up the page. And there’s a frightening intensity to the Joker. His Batman, too, post-Joker tussle, looks formidable, benefiting from the daylight reflected on him by colourist Tomeu Morey. And Clayton Cowles’ stylish lettering adds to the visual feast that is Batman #100.
Tynion teams with other artists for a couple of shorts that serve as epilogues/prologues. With penciller Carlo Pagulayan and inker Danny Miki, he brings us Intervention, in which Batman catches up with a teenager who’s been, it seems, beating Joker acolytes to death as the Human Chicken… sorry, Clownhunter. Can’t have a kid like that running free, obviously.
Batman disagrees that Clownhunter should be locked up for his community-minded slayings, recommending young Bao Pham tries therapy with all-purpose doctor Leslie Thompkins. She obviously did Bruce Wayne a power of good.
And with that, Batman swoops away, leaving Clownhunter to plot in lower case, the mark of a true villain.
Then, we catch up with Joker, who – say it ain’t so! – survived an explosion set by Harley. He’s watching a video made by Punchline, illustrated by Guillem March.
Blah blah blah. Joker reckons she’s playing it clever, preparing prospective jurors to be lenient. I’d say she’s being ridiculously transparent.
Mind, the Batman in this book would probably speak up in her defence.
James Tynion is a good writer. When he gets wordy, I rub my hands with glee at the value he’s adding to my reading experience. And he obviously has a vision for Gotham. But like Scott Snyder and Tom King before him, apparently, he’s playing the long game; originally slated for around 14 issues, Tynion has seen his run extended indefinitely. And good luck to him, it’s brilliant that he’s committed to introducing new ideas and characters, while polishing up older ones – Babs as Oracle once more, for example.
But every time a writer plays the long game, they put Batman on the back foot, deny him the big wins. And here it is again, a centenary celebration in which Batman fails to beat his greatest foe, lets a kill-crazy kid stay on the streets and is nowhere to be seen as Joker starts a new reign of terror.
I enjoyed this comic. Heck, even if between that amazing wraparound cover by Jimenez and Morey were 48 empty pages, I’d feel I had my money’s worth. I just wish it has left me with a smile on my face.